Someone asked me where I got my inspiration for some of my writing. Sometimes it makes even me screw up my face and wonder. One particular instance, however, was very clear and still makes me smile, although not in public, because people look at me funny. My first book, “Once Upon A Christmastime”, began in the Walmart’s hardware department several years ago. I am the director of Sunday School in my small church and give Christmas presents to the teachers every year. I always give the same thing to everybody, which isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. I was wandering around the store picking up necessities for the house while pondering gifts in my head. As I often do, I appealed to the source of all wisdom. “Give me a hint, God!” I begged. I’m not fond of shopping at any time, and I preferred to get everything in one trip.
Much to my surprise, the answer was clear, immediate, and very detailed. “Get one of those nightlights for each of them.” I was looking directly at some very plain, ordinary nightlights to stick in an outlet and keep you from stubbing your toes during midnight bathroom breaks. “How is that a gift?” I wondered. As He usually does, He said, “Do now, question later!” So I did, and continued through the store. Candy canes, Christmas star cookie cutters, some actual frankincense and myrrh incense, gold chains, and finally, in the arts and crafts department, I was directed to get some white feathers. I was floored by now. The gold chains I could understand; the teachers were all very classy ladies who could probably use a gold necklace. The frankincense and myrrh I got . The candy canes and Christmas star cookie cutters even made sense. But fake feathers and nightlights?
I got a gift bag for each teacher and divvied up the selections, then sat back and said, “Okay, how do I explain this collection?” He said, “Start typing!” and began to dictate. I was intrigued as the story unfolded. Usually I make a story up completely in my head, rumble it around for a while until I think it’s thoroughly digested, and then type it out. But I didn’t have any idea about this one until I typed each word. Weird, huh? What do you call that? Ghostwriting for God, maybe? I printed out the story, copied it for each teacher, and put a copy in each bag. Every year since then, He has given me a story. The gifts are always given on Christmas Eve after our community Christmas program, and sometimes He doesn’t inspire me until that morning, even though I had already gotten the gifts.
When I was going through chemo for breast cancer, I was too sick to go to the Christmas program, and I got no story. I thought about just sending the gifts by themselves, but something told me to wait. Sure enough, when I was able to get back to church, the story was suddenly there. The last story in that book suddenly began during a sermon in October and I found myself (being unable to type, of course, and unable to leave, since I also lead the congregational singing) suddenly whipping out a notepad and writing notes furiously as our pastor continued. I thought I was supposed to do that story that Christmas, but it would not work. I could not get it on paper. It took another six months before I could get it out. Luckily, He came through with not a story, but a poem, for the gift I gave that year. When I finished that story, my sister nagged me into self publishing it on Amazon, and then the next book, “Standing Next To A Miracle”, began to unfold, not Christmas stories this time, although strangely enough, the first story ends with Christ’s birth and I couldn’t finish it until December. I already have the gifts and the story for this year. Someday I may publish another book of Christmas stories…